Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Beta than before

The first thing I do with a new BETA of Elite, and I’m sure everyone does this, is to buy all the new ships and weapons. Then go crazy pew-pewing everything in sight. Then I go exploring a bit, then start looking at the mundane stuff.

So what is 2.1 like? Well, so much has changed it is difficult to point at one thing.

Atmosphere

The graphics for planets, both from orbit and on the surface have been visually improved and the performance is better, giving much higher FPS on my GTX 970. Planets look so amazing from orbit, I doubt anyone could see better currently without joining NASA. Stations look a little different too; not sure if some fog has been added, but it looks better.

As you approach stations, traffic control hails you in a wide variety of voices (depending on system), with your ship designation – in my case “Core Dynamics Alpha Romeo India”. It is a small thing, but adds a huge level of immersion into the Elite universe. You feel like you’ve arrived at a space station. And if you cut throttle down and listen carefully, you can hear – very faintly – radio squelch in the background, inaudible conversations between the station and other ships.

Weapons

Obviously there are the new engineer modifications (I’ll get to those) but the main change for both 1.6 and 2.1 are the addition of large multi-cannons and huge multi-cannons, beam lasers and pulse lasers. I fitted my FAS with large multi-cannons and medium pulse lasers, then took it for spin. The multi-cannon performed very well on the ship, but it didn’t feel like it was an overpowered mega-weapon, it just inflicted more damage than the smaller class version. Overall, very satisfactory. Gratifying audio too.

So following that, I switched to my Corvette and tried the huge beams, multi-cannons and pulse lasers. The beams looked damn sexy, but I found the pulse lasers have the most effective results. Mainly because of the new NPC AI.

NPCs

While people on the forums were raging about the NPCs running away, I found that some had a low “cowardice” threshold while others stuck around a little longer before bugging out, but overall, they displayed human-player-like behaviour. When their shields were down, once damage was done, they would run to 6-7km distance and wait for shields to come back up before returning to the fight. If damage got really low, they’d high-wake.

How did this affect combat? Well, my Corvette in the weapon configuration I started with was useless against small ships. As soon as they took damage, they’d run and a Corvette is not a ship you can chase anyone with. The FAS was far more successful, as I could keep ships in range long enough for a clean kill. With this in mind, I changed the Corvette’s weapons for short-burst high-damage weapons and had far more success. So the dynamic is moving towards that you'd see in PvP.

Missions

I have only tried one mission and due to time constraints, I failed it (had to log off and sleep). Yeah, I’m rubbish, I know. The missions are defined far better than ever before, with a detailed overview and list of required equipment. The mission giver was rather obsequious towards me (an Elite pilot) basically being a kiss arse. All this makes the mission feel more tangible.

The job was to kill 7 smugglers, some not-so-wanted mission targets amassed a bounty on my head in Nuenets. So yesterday, I logged on for a bit of bounty hunting in a RES site on the new ice ring RES at Fong Wang and I was interdicted by a bounty hunter NPC – an Elite Anaconda – so I let him shoot first, making HIM wanted and began to fire back. The NPC flew the HELL out of that ship, using shield cells, chaff, missiles, flight assist off. My Corvette had the advantage in both weapon and manoeuvrability, but it was still a battle royale; this guy was my match.
Then security turned up and it was over for him. By then he was on 10% hull anyway and the Viper that showed up distracted the Anaconda enough for me to make the kill.

So if you do something illegal, expect trouble to follow you.

Loot

Now when a ship is destroyed, it isn't just cargo and scrap left floating, but also components which can be traded with Engineers for upgrades. Basically, every enemy is now a Pinata. This means most people are going to want a collector limpet controller on combat ships and the cargo rack for limpets.

Good or bad?

I'd say this is good. With ship AI changes, my game had to adapt. I'd pick an NPC and do enough to make him flee. Then I'd hit another, the finish off NPC 1 while NPC 2 licked his wounds. Overall my kill rate didn't suffer any. While the Corvette lost some of it's effectiveness on small ships, with the right load-out I was okay. Big ships however, took more effort - especially if they had high rank. But that, in my opinion, is how it should be.

In my next post, I'll talk about enhanced thrusters, meeting Engineers and what to do with the loot.

All the dirt on 2.1

Releases and platforms

  • Horizons will be released as a BETA on the PC week ending May 8th (so any time that week).
  • The full update for both the core game and Horizons will ship in June.
  • Horizons will be released for the first time on XBOX One in June with or shortly after the PC release.

For details of the core game content click here

Elite: Dangerous Horizons 2.1

  • Engineer modifications won’t just be weapons.
  • Hostile NPCs will now attack on planets.
  • NPC traffic between bases will be seen on planets.
  • Engineer mods are mostly beneficial. Only a few have negative effects.
  • Rebuy will cover the Engineer modifications on your ship, so you won’t lose them if you vessel is destroyed.

Engineers

  • Engineers are planet dwelling individuals (around 30 to start with).
  • They will deal with you based on your reputation and rank and your relationship to them.
  • Relations are built with Engineers by bringing them materials and carrying out missions for them.
  • They will sell modifications to ships systems as well as awarding them for services carried out (missions).
  • Some Engineers will be approachable immediately, while others must be found and some will only deal with players of rank from their faction.
  • There may be PowerPlay specific Engineers.

Visual changes

  • Improved graphical fidelity for planet surface textures.

Exploration

  • Man made Points of Interest on planets will be mostly within the bubble (i.e. crashed ships)
  • Natural Points of Interest now exist to be discovered.

Confirmed Engineer modified weapons

  • Regeneration laser – a beam laser that will recharge a wing-man’s shields.
  • Feedback cascade – a new rail gun that, if fired when a shield cell is being used, collapsed the targets shields instantly.
  • Thermal shock – heats up a target.
  • Force shock shells – projectile version of shock-mines.
  • Emissive munitions – applies to cannons and multi-cannons. This ammo will increase the radar signature of target ship. Counters silent running. Larger signature also means the target will take more weapon damage. Causes weapon used with ammo to heat up more.
  • Incendiary Rounds – turns kinetic weapons into thermal on impact.
  • Effects of these weapons is multiplied when used by more than one ship on the same target.

Tips for beginners: Guns and ammo

elite_noob

Whether you have the Federal Corvette bristling with hard-points or the lowly Hauler with its single small (lonely) hard-point, your choice of weapon is a life-and-death decision. Getting it wrong will most likely be your demise.

Best weapon?

There is no best weapon in Elite, just good combinations - the trick is finding the best combination for your ship and play style.

Thermal or kinetic?

Most energy weapons are thermal (they burn), while projectile weapons do damage by striking a ship’s hull (bullets, missiles, torpedoes and cannon shells), but there are the exceptions that do both (Plasma Accelerator bolts and Rail Gun shells).

Energy weapons do more damage to shields, while kinetic weapons do more damage to hull. That’s not to say a multi-cannon won’t take down shields, but they won’t be as effective as a beam laser of the same class. The reverse is also true. The same multi-cannon will turn a ship’s hull into Swiss cheese while the beam laser will burn away for ages before the enemy is destroyed.

It is worth mixing weapons types for a more effective attack.

Weapon mounting

Weapons come attached to your ship in three flavours. Each variant has strengths and weaknesses.

  • Fixed fires straight, must be aimed by ship’s nose position.
  • Gimballed weapon will track target within forward view.
  • Turret weapon will track all round and fires automatically when in range.

The amount of damage a weapon does decreases if they are gimballed or turreted, compared to the fixed version.

Fixed weapons fire in a straight line, so you can miss any moving target if you don’t anticipate, but equally your aim cannot be affected by countermeasures.

A gimballed weapon can auto-aim, so you’ll get more hits on the target. While a turret can fire behind you, or above you, even when you cannot see the target through the canopy.

Fixed weapons would be effective on a fast fighter, such as an Eagle or Vulture, but a multi-cannon turret would be more useful on a Type-6 trader to shoot the bad guys behind you while you make your escape!

Types of weapon

  • Pulse laser – steady fire rate. Does equal damage to shields and hull. Low power consumption. Low heat output.
  • Burst laser – faster fire in short bursts. Does more damage than pulse, but uses more power and produces more heat.
  • Beam laser – most dangerous laser. Pours on the damage like a hose. Burns through your WEP capacitor quickly and produces damaging amounts of heat with larger classes.
  • Multi-cannon – very effective against ship hull. Rapid fire. Doesn’t use much power. Very low heat. Runs out of ammo in sustained combat.
  • Cannon – slow to fire, but causes a lot of damage. Next to no heat. Causes “splash” damage – it doesn’t just damage where it hits, but spreads the pain around! Very good at killing modules.
  • Fragment cannon – slow to fire. Low heat. Very short range, but does a lot of damage when close. Often described as “space shotgun”.
  • Plasma Accelerator – fires low speed projectiles. Does a LOT of damage. Huge power drain and produces almost as much heat as beam lasers.
  • Rail Gun – super-fast projectile. Does lots of damage. Big power drain and makes lots of heat. Very slow to fire (over a second) so needs practice to use.
  • Missile rack (dumb fire) – very damaging kinetic weapon. Good range. Power use and heat are high.
  • Missile rack (seeking) – like their “dumb” counterparts, seeking missiles have the same strengths and weaknesses, but will lock on to a target and follow it, so are much harder to evade.
  • Torpedo pylon – fires a single heavy yield kinetic projectile.
  • Mine launcher – these can drop proximity mines that cause explosive damage, but also shock-mines which do very little damage, but throw a ship off course.
Energy weapons as primary and kinetic as secondary is a good tactic

weapons

Countermeasures

Combat can be an elaborate game of “rock, paper, scissors” with ships having different weapons, armour and shields. But for every weapon, there is some kind of countermeasure.

  • Heatsinks – these drain your ship coolant into a hockey-puck projectile and fire it from the ship, making your ship cold. How is that a countermeasure? Now your ship is (for a short while) radar invisible, while the heatsink is a radar blip. Fire one, change direction and escape.
  • Chaff – this firework display from your ship scatters the aim of gimbals and turrets.
  • ECM – electronic counter-measures will deflect the tracking of an incoming torpedo or seeking missile.
  • Point defence – this is a tiny auto-cannon that will attempt to shoot down any incoming missile or mine.

With the exception of point defence, all these countermeasures are totally useless against an enemy with a fixed weapon and a good aim!